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There’s a reason why the 16750 has a cult following among GMT-Master collectors: Rolex took the nearly-perfect Reference 1675 (in continuous production for decades), kept the matte dial, hands, tritium lume and case, and souped it up under the hood. Hard to go wrong with a recipe like that.
The Reference 1675 GMT-Master with a “Pepsi” bezel seems to be on the top of every collector’s wish list these days. That’s no surprise- after all, it has timeless good looks and a great story behind it- and after playing second fiddle to the Submariners and Daytonas for too long, the GMT is getting its moment in the spotlight.
This has unfortunately led to exceptional matte-dialed Reference 16750 models, long a best-kept secret among vintage Rolex aficionados, all but vanishing. Savvy collectors gravitated to this reference because it is virtually identical to the classic 1675 on the outside, but features a more modern and improved movement on the inside. During the 1970s, Rolex needed to introduce new movements with higher beat rates and quick-set dates to keep up their competition, and the 16750 is the first GMT-Master with these features. Swapping the 1675’s cal. 1575 movement for the upgraded cal. 3075, Rolex increased the beat rate to the modern standard of 28,800 vibrations per hour (for improved accuracy), and the quick-set date was a welcome convenience for owners.
The 16750 is what’s known as a transitional model by Rolex collectors today, since after producing it with a matte dial for a few years, Rolex transitioned to a glossy dial with white gold surrounds on the hour markers, the same type of dial that was carried over into the modern GMT-Master II references. When matte-dialed owners sent their 16750s to Rolex for service, many had their dials swapped out for glossy dials. Combine that with the short production run, and subtract the pieces that were damaged or lost over the years, and you’re left with very few quality examples of the 16750 surviving to this day.
It’s not hard to understand why the 16750 GMT-Master is viewed as the Reference to own by many knowledgeable collectors. The example that we’ve sourced here features all the elements you'd want in a proper vintage Rolex sports model: sharp case without major blemishes or signs of over polishing, original, nicely patinated dial and hands, and a great faded "Pepsi" insert.
As the legend goes, Pan-Am approached Rolex in 1953 looking for a watch specially designed for their pilots, and a partnership was quickly formed. A Submariner became the base for this new watch, and several important modifications were made to turn a Sub into the GMT-Master that we know today. Rolex added a date function with a cyclops lens magnifier, GMT complication, and two-colored bezel to provide long-haul pilots with the info they needed as they circumnavigated the globe.
The GMT-Master’s 24-hour hand works in conjunction with the rotating bezel to make tracking a second time zone incredibly simple. When the bezel’s triangle is aligned to 12 o’clock, the red arrow hand points to the time on a 24-hour military scale, which in itself is valuable as a day/night indicator (at least if you’re a cave explorer). The usefulness of the complication really shines when the wearer rotates the bezel so that the numbers around the bezel correspond the a 2nd time zone (such as Greenwich Mean Time), allowing the watch to track any two time zones in the world at once.
Five decades later, the GMT-Master and its “Pepsi” bezel has become a true icon of the watch world. Instantly recognizable and eternally stylish, the watch represents vintage Rolex at its best.
Steel Oyster Case is approximately 40mm (excluding the crown). Rolex Reference 16750. Circa 1981.
Overall Condition: Case is in good condition over all, showing light signs of wear consistent with age and use, but no signs of over-polishing. Lugs remain sharp and thick. Original matte dial shows even patina. Original handset shows signs of aging and patination consistent with age. Original case back and signed crown.
Includes one brown leather strap and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.